New research has revealed that Ötzi the Iceman was at a greatly increased risk of heart problems and may have been close to a heart attack or stroke before he died 5,300 years ago, leaving his incredibly well-preserved body to be discovered in 1991 in the snowy Alps bordering Italy and Austria.
While the body of Ötzi the Iceman has undergone numerous studies, scientists recently conducted a full-body computed tomography (CT) scan of the mummy, which detected that Ötzi had three areas of hardened plaque scattered around the region of his heart, along with his carotid artery. As this particular artery moves blood throughout the neck and head, it is crucial that its flow remains unimpeded, as Live Science reports.
While Ötzi the Iceman would have benefited greatly from cholesterol-lowering medication if he had been alive today, as well as medicine to reduce his blood pressure, Dr. Seth Martin of John Hopkins Medicine explained that Ötzi would have been much better off eliminating or reducing his consumption of meat and that when it came to his overall diet, “we’d be focusing on a plant-based, vegetarian diet. Folks who follow a more plant-based or Mediterranean diet — that’s the type of diet that can help prevent heart disease.”
The very last meal that Ötzi the Iceman would have enjoyed did have healthy grains in it but also consisted of wild deer and goat. If medicine had been as advanced in Ötzi’s age as it is now, Dr. Martin suggests that coronary bypass surgery or a carotid endarterectomy may have helped to save him from suffering a heart attack or stroke.
On the other hand, some scientists have noted that Ötzi would have gotten regular exercise and wasn’t overweight and that while he did consume meat, his diet wasn’t necessarily one that consisted of too many fatty foods. Given these facts, it is very likely that the health issues Ötzi the Iceman suffered from may very well have been genetic, according to cardiologist Dr. Philip Green.
“I suspect that lifestyle didn’t play a major role in his development of plaque.”
Albert Zink, from the Institute for Mummies, agrees with Dr. Green and doesn’t feel he would have been any healthier had he switched to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
“Compared to modern standards, he would not be considered as a risk patient. So, I think a different diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, wouldn’t have helped Ötzi.”
The new research on Ötzi the Iceman suffering from an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke has been published in Journal Advances in the Field of X-Rays.